Turkish govt just like extremist right wingers who marginalise Muslims: HDP deputy

HDP Group Deputy Chair Filiz Kerestecioglu at the Turkish parliament (File Photo)

Turkey’s pro-minority rights Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) group deputy chairman Filiz Kerestecioglu has accused the Turkish government of being just like extremist right wing parties in Europe and said, “Ankara must adopt democratic measures before criticising other countries”.

Speaking to a Turkish news outlet, human rights activist and feminist Kerestecioglu said it was the AKP being rejected by Europe and not Turkey.

“The AKP denounces Europeans as the enemy,” Kerestecioglu said, adding, “they marginalise all the others, just like extremist right wingers marginalise Muslims”.

The HDP deputy evoked that former ministers of the brief coalition government in 2015, Muslum Dogan and Ali Haydar Konca, were stopped by military forces while trying to enter the under-curfew southeastern city of Cizre in September 2015.

“The right to protest and freedom of expression are essential for everyone in the world. I want to emphasise whether these basic freedoms have been implemented in Turkey or not. This government, which has been in power for 15 years, didn’t allow coalition-government ministers into Cizre.”

Kerestecioglu continued, “First, you need to adopt democracy and the universal principles of freedoms before you lecture others. Human rights and freedom of speech have been trampled on in Turkey”.

“Almost 2,000 people including 800 military officials died, severe human rights violations were committed and over 355,000 people displaced based on the report. We tried to prevent these events but we were restrained several times. This is the doing of the AKP,” Kerestecioglu added, referring to the UN report on human rights violations in Turkey for last year.

The United Nations Human Rights Council members gathered to discuss the annual report of human rights violations at the 34th Human Rights Sessions in Geneva, Switzerland last week. In the report, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad al Hussein, voiced concerns over human rights violations in Turkey, especially in Kurdish populated cities.

Commenting on the upcoming referendum, for which government ministers are holding rallies in European countries, Kerestecioglu said, “Erdogan talks about democracy but has declared everyone who is voting against constitutional reform as enemies of the state.”

The HDP lawmaker also highlighted the state of emergency situation and imprisonment of more than 45,000 people following the failed coup attempt last year.

“Today, there are 157 journalists in prison. 321 academics who signed a peace declaration were dismissed while several others are exiled. How can a government which closes all the doors to its own citizens talk about democracy?” she asked.

Meanwhile, speaking to dpa, opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, Sezgin Tanrikulu, said that campaigning abroad was illegal according to Turkish law.

“It has no criminal liability but is a moral obligation,” he said.

Article 94/A of the general election law explicitly bans campaigning abroad or in foreign diplomatic missions. Ironically the law was enacted by the current government.

The crisis across Europe over attempts by Justice and Development (AKP) Party government ministers to hold rallies for Turkey’s upcoming constitutional referendum, continues amid diplomatic arguments.